True to their word, Nigeria’s security operatives have begun interrogating key officials of the body that controls Nigeria’s football affairs in order to unravel the mystery behind the fire that engulfed the Abuja headquarters of the Nigerian Football Federation early last Wednesday. The fire inflicted significant damage on the building popularly called the Glass House.
Yesterday, officials of the State Security Service (SSS) questioned Mike Umeh, one of the principal actors in recent controversies involving the members of the NFF. Mr. Umeh’s extensive questioning took place at the Yellow House, the headquarters of the SSS in Abuja.
An SSS official said the agency was interested in having Mr. Umeh clarify certain statements he made regarding the fire. The NFF official had described the fire as “strange” and “a sabotage,” adding that it was designed to cover the corruption at the federation. He had also accused top NFF officials of complicity in the fire, increasingly being treated as a case of arson, according to a source involved in the investigation.
Another SSS official refused to divulge the specific information the agency’s investigators got from Mr. Umeh, who served for a short time as acting president after President Goodluck Jonathan’s removal of the incumbent president, Aminu Maigari. Mr. Maigari was reinstated following threats by FIFA, the global regulator of football, to suspend Nigeria from the international body.
“We’re going to be talking to as many people as possible in order to get to the root of the fire at Glass House,” the SSS source said. He added: “The fact that we invited Chief Umeh to answer questions does not mean that we consider him a suspect. We are engaged in fact-finding at this stage.”
One of our sources revealed that SSS agents planned to invite Mr. Maigari to field questions today. “We are aiming to cover every ground in the investigations that will determine if Wednesday’s fire was indeed arson,” said the source.
Like Mr. Umeh, many Nigerians suspect that some NFF insiders must have set the fire with the motive of destroying documents that might reveal graft and other acts of corruption in the federation.